Earlier this week SEGA, the company that at one time was a giant in the world of video game hardware with the Genesis and Dreamcast, announced they would bring a series of their “classic” titles to mobile devices, with an initiative called SEGA Forever. Free to play, ad-supported ports of old SEGA games came to iOS and Android stores. The gaming ecosystem at large just sort of went “meh.” Which begs the question, who was this really for?
Certainly, nostalgia is a powerful force in consumerism, as evidenced by Nintendo’s contempt for the common people by making a really awesome retro box and then months later simply saying too bad you can’t have one. SEGA trying not to fall behind the curve, have tried to play up our fond memories and they’ve come out swinging. The SEGA Forever lineup brought out some of their most infamous games:
- Sonic The Hedgehog
- Comix Zone
- Kid Chameleon
- Altered Beast
- Phantasy Star II
The launch lineup while adorable are games that have been available in some form through either a games collection for consoles or eShop. It’ll be interesting to see if SEGA puts out any download numbers on these games. As of now Sonic The Hedgehog has surpassed the 50k downloads mark on Android but still hasn’t cracked the shop’s most popular category.
SEGA Forever isn’t a bad idea itself, it’s targeted marketing is the weak link in all this. Every press release and video is aimed at the die-hard gaming consumer. A base that simply doesn’t need an emulator for a device they historically ignore as a gaming platform. A better use of SEGA’s marketing would be to market the initiative to the audience that grew up out of gaming. The college kid who had a Genesis in his dorm then later got kids instead of a PlayStation. People who had a casual fling with video games at one time or another and now only recognize major figures such as Super Mario or Sonic The Hedgehog. If SEGA were ever going to buy primetime cable or network TV spots this would be the product to do it for. Sure it’s a free-to-play game but the potential ad revenue could pay for real SEGA projects down the road.
With a decent sized library of games from the Master System to Genesis era, the coming months will see more games come to mobile through SEGA Forever. How much Sonic and Outrun can a person take? In order for SEGA to set itself apart in the retro market, they need to lean on or relicense the third party games. I’d love to replay the Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin game or both the X-Men titles that were on the Genesis. While the games SEGA could put out with little to no red tape will fill the next couple of months it will run dry. Going into the deeper part of the catalog would alleviate that worry as well as carrying more appeal to their coveted current gaming fan demo.
Is SEGA on the right path? Do you care about playing games on your phone? Can you name a SEGA game other than Sonic or Altered Beasts?